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Interrogating Institutionalism Interrogating Institutions: Beyond 'Calculus' and 'Cultural' Approaches (PSGE 8.3 1998), Colin Hay and Daniel Wincott

Interrogating Institutionalism Interrogating Institutions: Beyond 'Calculus' and 'Cultural' Approaches (PSGE 8.3 1998), Colin Hay and Daniel Wincott

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Peter Hall and Rosemary Taylor's recent article, "Political Science and the Three New Institutional, isms" (published in Political Studies), provides a balanced and meticulous review of the many faces of the "new institutionalism" and a distinctive contribution to the growing literature in this area in its own right. Though deeply sympathetic to the analysis presented by Hall and Taylor, our aim in this Ie' sponse is to draw attention to, and to reflect upon, some of the leey theoretical and conceptual issues that they leave largely unresolved. We suggest that the fundamentally different (and, we argue, pro, foundly antithetical) ontolOgical assumptions of rationalist and sociological institutionalism mue any attempted synthesis that aims to transcend this divide undesirable and ultimately fruitless. Indeed, we suggest, the ontologies underpinning both rational choice and sociological institutionalism (a calculus and a cultural logic respectively) militate against the development of an institutionalism sensitive to in, stitutional change over time. Consequently, the further development of institutional theory necessitates a distinctive social ontology itself grounded in a clearly articulated view of the complex relationship between structure and agency. Such a social ontology can be discovered in certain of the more generic comments of some historical institutionalists. It is, nonetheless, profoundly at odds with both the "cal· culus" and "cultural" logics which Hall and Taylor claim to identify within the historical institutionalist oeuvre. Accordingly, we reject the temptation to forge a synthetic institutionalism capable of transcending the limitations of each distinctive perspective, emphasising instead the potential offered by a reinvigorated historical institutionalism that can differentiate itself both analytically and ontologically from rational choice and sociological institutionalism. We outline an alternative interpretation of the social ontology on which this might be premised.
Peter Hall and Rosemary Taylor's recent article, "Political Science and the Three New Institutional, isms" (published in Political Studies), provides a balanced and meticulous review of the many faces of the "new institutionalism" and a distinctive contribution to the growing literature in this area in its own right. Though deeply sympathetic to the analysis presented by Hall and Taylor, our aim in this Ie' sponse is to draw attention to, and to reflect upon, some of the leey theoretical and conceptual issues that they leave largely unresolved. We suggest that the fundamentally different (and, we argue, pro, foundly antithetical) ontolOgical assumptions of rationalist and sociological institutionalism mue any attempted synthesis that aims to transcend this divide undesirable and ultimately fruitless. Indeed, we suggest, the ontologies underpinning both rational choice and sociological institutionalism (a calculus and a cultural logic respectively) militate against the development of an institutionalism sensitive to in, stitutional change over time. Consequently, the further development of institutional theory necessitates a distinctive social ontology itself grounded in a clearly articulated view of the complex relationship between structure and agency. Such a social ontology can be discovered in certain of the more generic comments of some historical institutionalists. It is, nonetheless, profoundly at odds with both the "cal· culus" and "cultural" logics which Hall and Taylor claim to identify within the historical institutionalist oeuvre. Accordingly, we reject the temptation to forge a synthetic institutionalism capable of transcending the limitations of each distinctive perspective, emphasising instead the potential offered by a reinvigorated historical institutionalism that can differentiate itself both analytically and ontologically from rational choice and sociological institutionalism. We outline an alternative interpretation of the social ontology on which this might be premised.

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08/06/2013

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Progrom.
for
the
Study
of
Gennany
&
Europe
Working
Paper
8.3
Interrogating Institutionalism Interrogating Institutions: Beyond "Calculus" and
"Cultural"
Approaches· Colin Hay, Universitiy
of
Birmingham and M.I.T. 
and 
Daniel Wincott, University
of
Birmingham Abstract Peter Hall
and
Rosemary Taylor's recent article, "Political Science and the
Three
New
Institutional,
isms"
(published in
Political
Studies),
provides a balanced and meticulous review of the many
faces
ofthe "new institutionalism" and a distinctive contribution to the growing literature in this area in itsown right. Though deeply sympathetic to the analysis presented
by
Hall and Taylor, our aim in this
Ie'
sponse
is
to draw attention to, and to reflect upon, some of the
leey
theoretical and conceptual
issues
that they leave largely unresolved.
We
suggest
that
the
fundamentally different (and,
we
argue, pro,foundly antithetical) ontolOgical assumptions
of
rationalist
and
sociological institutionalism
mue
anyattempted synthesis that aims to transcend this divide undesirable and ultimately fruitless. Indeed,
we
suggest, the ontologies underpinning both rational choice
and
sociological institutionalism (a calculus
and
a cultural logic respectively) militate against the development
of
an institutionalism sensitive to in,stitutional change over time. Consequently, the further development
of
institutional theory necessitatesa distinctive social ontology itself grounded
in
a clearly articulated view
of
the complex relationshipbetween structure and agency. Such a social ontology
can
be discovered
in
certain
of
the more genericcomments of some historical institutionalists.
It
is,
nonetheless, profoundly
at
odds with both the "cal·culus" and "cultural" logics which Hall and Taylor claim to identify within
the
historical institutional­ist oeuvre. Accordingly,
we
reject the temptation
to
forge a synthetic institutionalism capable
of
tran­scending the limitations
of
each distinctive perspective, emphasising instead the potential offered
by
areinvigorated historical institutionalism that can differentiate itself both analytically and ontologicallyfrom rational choice and sociological institutionalism.
We
outline
an
alternative interpretation of thesocial ontology on which this might be premised.
• A heavUy abbreviated version
of
this paper
appealS
as
"Structure and
Agency
in
Historical Institutionalism,"
Political
Studies,
46
(5),
December
1998.
 
Interrogating Institutionalism Interrogating Institutions: Beyond 'Calculus' and 'Cultural' Approaches*
Colin Hay, Universities
of
Birmingham and
MIT
and
Daniel Wincott, University
of
Birmingham
As
befits two
of
its principal exponents, Peter Hall and Rosemary Taylor's recent article'Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms' provides a meticulous, measured,perceptive and provocative review
of
the many faces of the 'new institutionalism' and adistinctive contribution to the growing literature in this area in its own right.! Published in
the
house journal
of
the Political Studies Association of the UK at a time
of
mountinginterest in institutional analysis amongst British political scientists, it provides
an
importantopportunity to consider again
the
strengths and weaknesses, merits and demerits
of
contemporary institutionalism and to raise the question of how its many insights might bemore fully incorporated within the British political science mainstream.
It
is in this spiritthat the present contribution is intended.Though deeply sympathetic to the analysis presented by Hall and Taylor, our aim in thisresponse is to draw attention to, and to reflect upon, some
of
the key theoretical andconceptual issues that they leave largely unresolved,
fail
to resolve adequately, or fail toaddress altogether. Rightly, they identify two issues
as
crucial-
the relationship betweeninstitutions and behaviour, and the origins and subsequent development
of
institutions over
*
The authors would like to thank Mark Blyth, Stuart Croft. Carsten Daugbjerg, Paul Furlong, Jonathan Hopkin, Dave Marsh, Mick Moran, Paul Pierson, Rod Rhodes and, in particular, Peter Hall for their generous and perceptive comments on an earlier version
of
this article and for general discussions
of
its principal themes. The usual disclaimers apply. 
1
Peter A. Hall and Rosemary C. R. Taylor, 'Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms', 
Political Studies,
44, 4 (1996), 936-57. 
2
 
time?
Nonetheless, the presentational separation
and
stylistic demarcation
between
theseconcerns exhibited
in
Hall and
Taylor's
revew is,
we
think, ultimately
unhelpful. In
itsmutual isolation
of
these complexly interwoven themes, it
can
only serve to
preserve and
reproduce the tendential structuralism that has so
often
plagued institutionalist analysis
(a
structuralism reflected in the very
term
'institutionalism' itself).
This
structuralism, wesuggest in turn, has its origins in a failure to apply consistently the social ontology
that
can
be
uncovered
in
the more programmatic statements
of
the historical institutionalists (Hall
himself
not
withstanding).
It
concerns
the
relationship
of
institutions
and behaviour,
structure and agency, and has
been
applied unevenly
by
institutionalists to
questions
of
institutional change.
Our
argument throughout will
be
that none
of
the
strands
of
institutionalism identified
by
Hall and Taylor, despite their obvious promise, constitute as yet a
coherent and
consistentapproach to institutional analysis. Moreover, the fundamentally different
(and
we
wouldargue, profoundly antithetical) ontological assumptions that underpin rationalist
and
moresociological variants
of
institutionalism make any attempted synthesis that aims to transcendthis divide undesirable and ultimately impossible. Indeed,
we
suggest,
the ontologies
underpinning both rational choice and sociological institutionalism (a calculus
and
a culturallogic respectively) militate against
the development
of
an institutionalism
sensitive
toinstitutional
change
over time. Consequently, the further
development
of
institutionaltheory needs to
be
underpinned
by
a distinctive social ontology itself grounded
in
a clearlyarticulated view
of
the complex relationship
between
structure and agency.
Though we
argue such a social ontology can
be
discovered in certain
of
the more generic
comments
of
some
historical institutionalists,
it
is
nonetheless profoundly
at
odds with both
the'calculus' and 'cultural' logics which Hall and Taylor
claim
to identify within the historicalinstitutionalist
oeuvre.
The
argument proceeds
in
four stages. First,
we seek
to identify the
generic form
or
common core
of
the widely identified
new
institutionalism -a core capable
of
unifying thevarious specific institutionalisms (rationalist, historical
and
sociological)
that
Hall and
Taylor distinguish. This we find to reside in a decidedly thin institutionalism, incapable
of
generating
and
sustaining a
distinctive
research
agenda
in its
own
right.
This
thin
2
Although not explicitly identified as such, a concern with the role
of
ideas
in
institutional change is,rightly, almost as important in their account as the analysis
of
institutional(ised) conduct, institutonalcontext and institutional change.
3

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